By Levin Woon / Free Malaysia Today
The police today cracked their whip on dissidents of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), by arresting 14 people outside of a Sabah hotel where the world leaders are meeting on the agreement.
Eleven of them were rounded up while staging a protest at Sutera Harbour Resort, where the TPPA negotiations are on-going, while the rest were arrested outside the Karamunsing police station when they protested against the first arrest.
The detainees are currently being held at the Karamunsing police station in Kota Kinabalu, with their lawyer claiming that they were forced to undergo urine test.
The incident took place at about 8.40am today as the protestors gathered outside of the resort with banners and posters against the TPPA.
According human rights NGO Suaram, the police initially told the protestors to shift 50 metres away from the hotel’s main door, which the protestors agreed to.
“But after they shifted, the police came again and hauled up 11 of them and seized all their banners,” said Suaram in a statement.
At 3pm, the 14 protesters were released unconditionally.
Their lawyer, Ryan Soo, said it was ridiculous for the police to cite Section 15 of the Dangerous Drug Act 1952 to make the arrests, despite all of them having no history of substance abuse.
“Besides, the police made no mention of drugs at all when recording the protesters’ statements. The questions were all about the demonstration,” he said.
Soo alleged that the arrests were made in bad faith and if there were any laws broken, the protesters should have been investigated under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
“It seems that the police only wanted the protesters away from the resort,” he said.
Twelve nations are currently involved in the TPPA talks, which once sealed would allow the establishment of an international tribunal to deliberate suits brought by companies from member countries.
The tribunal would have the power to overrule decisions made by a country’s court.
The agreement would also allow companies to continue owning privileges they had for the patented medicine they developed, which raised the concerns that prices of medicine may soar.